Thursday, March 25, 2010

Focus on the Process

"I don't believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process." ~ Oprah Winfrey

Far too often we focus on results instead of the process. We cannot control results. We can only control the process. I was not chosen as a finalist in the competition, but I had nothing to lose. There were over 1,300 entrants and only 15 were selected. I recognize most of the names in that list of 15, so it should tell you something about the quality of work that made it in. I look forward to seeing their entries as I always have something to learn from those who are better than me.

The experience reminded me how important staying focused on the process is. The process of getting into the studio, putting out paint, mixing it up, and applying it to canvas. The process of continuously learning from the works of others. The process of assessing my own work and seeking improvement. All these things are necessary if I am to find the results I seek because results will never come without it.

I didn't always see it this way. I was results-oriented for much of my life and it served me well in corporate America - but it was chaotic and highly stressful. Maturity and experience showed me that being process-oriented would lessen the drama and produce results that were more consistent and of better quality.

Results-orientation is acting based on how you feel about your need for success and an utter fear of failure. It ensures a high level of stress because it is driven by emotion and how closely success is tied to your sense of self. Anyone who is a perfectionist is almost always results-oriented.

Process-orientation is acting based on how you feel about the activity and less so on the final outcome. It is a rational approach to working because you are thinking about how to produce the result in a repeatable, efficient way. The joy is in the work itself and not just the rewards, recognition, or fulfillment that comes with the product of your work. It doesn't mean that you have no regard for the end results, because there would be no sense in refining the process if you didn't.

We all lean towards one side or the other and neither approach is necessarily wrong. I have learned the latter is more enjoyable and better suited for me. Others need the drama in their lives and thrive on it.

"Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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